James Barnett, senior master coach at [solidcore] and the founder of Body by James, lives and breathes fitness. Between coaching clients and completing his own workouts, he also finds time for rest, recovery and stress relief. We talked with Barnett about starting his own workout program and how he manages a busy schedule. Note: This interview is a part of our 20 Masters of Mindfulness, Movement + Connection roundup, which ran in our Winter 2021 issue.
Tell me about your journey and how it brought you to your current role.
I am an athlete and have always loved pushing myself physically and mentally closer to my limits, and getting stronger along the way. I grew up diving and dove in college, and after graduating and retiring, missed the sport and how dedicated I was to it. I continued coaching dive and working out, but when I took my first [solidcore] class, I knew I found my next passion. Classes are crazy hard, more mentally challenging than any workout, and the results are amazing. I’ve been coaching at [solidcore] for the past six years and still love the workout and community of coaches, leadership and clients around it.
Once the pandemic hit and we closed, I launched my own workout, which is a virtual HIIT [high intensity interval training] class combining lots of the fitness techniques I’ve learned over the years, and called it Body By James (BBJ for short). It’s been so fun to coach and connect with clients again and hear how much they appreciate and love the workout. I teach live classes, and there is an on-demand library of classes people can access whenever they’d like.
How are you practicing and prioritizing self-care, especially mid-pandemic?
I spend a lot of time teaching fitness to other people, but I am especially deliberate about scheduling and taking my own workouts. I love [solidcore], but I mix it up and frequently take classes at Cut Seven, where I used to also coach many moons ago. I love, love, love Katie Collard’s classes as well. Food is such an important part of my recovery and I love to cook, so I also prioritize making enough time to make and enjoy my meals.
What does self-compassion mean to you, and how do you incorporate it into your practice?
To me, self-compassion means not judging myself or thinking I’m crazy when I start to get too stressed. My schedule is completely packed, and it can be overwhelming at times. There is a lot going on. So when I feel like my stress is rising, I pull away, take some deep breaths and sometimes I will meditate. When my meditation practice is most consistent, I feel like I can really crush any day – no matter how crazy or busy.
Also, therapy. I love going to therapy. It’s the one time per week where I can really decompress in a no judgement space, and also it’s 100% about me. I don’t have to think about how I’m being perceived or judged, and can get some objective and professional insight on how I am feeling about my life. I think everyone should get a therapist.
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